“Should I tell the musicians to start playing, Chessy?”
“Uncle George, don’t call me that. No one calls me that anymore.” Margaret gave his arm a squeeze and glanced around the foyer of the church to see if anyone had heard him. Thankfully they were all alone, the last of the guests having been shown into St. Matthews, where the pews overflowed with the finest citizens of Laramie, along with the groom’s family and friends from the East.
Why this was probably the biggest wedding Laramie had ever seen.
Something terrible fizzled down Margaret’s spine. Nerves, she told herself. It was just nerves. Whatever for, though?
She had every right to be married here. This was home. Even if after the wedding luncheon, she’d board the train again and go back East. After all, she was marrying Mr. Francis Hartley, Esq. of the Connecticut Hartleys. The son of a senator. A newly minted lawyer himself.
In less than an hour, she’d be Mrs. Francis Hartley.
So there was no reason to be beset with nerves. This was exactly what she wanted.
“Come on, Chessy, don’t be a goose,” Uncle George was saying, chuckling a bit, his fingers closing over … Read more »
“A lady agent? How utterly ridiculous. A woman could never do what we do.”
“Smile, my dear Miss Stratton,” Lady Essex Marshom advised. And not for the first time.
So Roselie did her best to smile.
It was a Herculean effort, to say the least.
She glanced around the crowded room at Almack’s and wished she could be more like the other girls. That her only concern was who might ask her to dance. Or if she should have worn her green ribbons or her blue ones. Or whether she needed new slippers.
But she wasn’t like other girls.
After all, she’d been out in London Society for four long years—a veritable eternity in the ton. Nor in her favor was her complete lack of interest in frippery or likely candidates. Actually, she was rather proud of her ability to send suitors shying for the hills. And she would continue to be too sharp, too bossy and whatever else it took to maintain her freedom.
Because quite simply, marriage would ruin everything.
Especially when she had work to do.
She checked once again—and yes, the note she’d been slipped by one of the servants was still … Read more »
Here is the sixpence we found all those years ago. I am passing it along to you as promised. There can be no doubts that your faith in its powers was well-placed as it has worked for me, and now, dear friend, it is your turn, even if it is, as your aunt Aldora writes, that you’ve already found an eligible parti. Still, I do hope and pray that this coin will ensure that he is the one and I insist you have this paragon accompany you to my wedding. How else can your aunts and I can pass judgment on him if you do not bring him to Hamilton Hall?
Your friend always,
Miss Cordelia Padley set the letter down and turned the old sixpence that had come with it over in her hand. For all her faith that this coin would bring the four of them happiness, Cordelia now found herself filled with doubts.
For here was Anne expecting her to arrive with the man she intended to marry.
Save for one small problem. She didn’t have a betrothed.
“Is that the fabled coin?” Kate Harrington asked. Her hired companion set down the morning paper … Read more »
“Egads! Kingsley! Is that you?”
Major Kingsley looked up from where he’d been standing, or rather hiding, on the fringes of the ballroom. All around him, the Duke and Duchess of Setchfield’s annual masquerade was in full force.
Considering how scandal ridden the ball always seemed to be year after year, Kingsley had come specifically in hopes of finding some lascivious widow or a stray courtesan who’d dared to come mingle in the rarefied air of Mayfair, then wander off for a bit of sport.
It was, after all, his last night of freedom in so many ways.
But it seemed the Fates weren’t inclined toward romance this evening as a short, square-figured little man in a bright gold costume came toddling toward him.
There was only one soul on earth who would dare such an ensemble.
“Augie!” Kingsley replied, pushing off the wall, for while this was not quite how he’d envisioned his evening progressing, he was genuinely happy to see his old boon companion. “Well, I never.”
Lord Augustus Charles Hustings, or Augie to his friends, was the sort of fellow who always enlivened an evening—what with his nonsensical views and his misguided banter.
Best of all, Augie … Read more »
Lord Charleton’s butler, Brobson, barely admitted Tuck to the house. Even then, only to the foyer. “Your uncle will see you momentarily.” Then the fellow strode off as if he had just admitted a plague victim into the household.
Yes, indeed. It was as bad as all that.
As he stood there, shuffling about a bit nervously, he heard something. Coming to a standstill, he heard it more clearly.
Weeping. And then a huge sniffle. The sort that would leave a perfectly good handkerchief utterly useless.
He glanced at the front door. The one that led to the street and London beyond. Where perhaps he could start anew. Join a circus. Ship off to parts unknown. Drown himself in the Thames.
He shook his still throbbing head at any of those options. He wasn’t overly fond of travel—all the discomforts and inconveniences of being away from one’s own bed. And sadly, he was a perfectly good swimmer.
The crying had now risen in pitch and fervor, and jangled at his nerves. Bother, it would weigh on any man’s sensibilities.
Besides, it wrenched on his heart. He’d never admit this to anyone, not even if they were to forgive all his … Read more »
From SOMETHING ABOUT EMMALINE
“My last meal,” Lord John Tremont bemoaned as he tucked his knife and fork into the thick cut of beef before him. “But at least it is a fine one.”
“I suppose it helps that I am paying for all that, eh, Jack?” his best friend, Alexander Denford, Baron Sedgwick, commented dryly.
“You owe me nothing less,” Jack replied between bites.
“I owe you?” Alex laughed. “Now, I’m not one to call accounts between friends, but truly I don’t see how I owe you.” He refilled his glass from the bottle the innkeeper had left for them. Given that it was French and very dear, he knew he’d best get a few glasses in before his friend decided to attack the rare vintage with the same fervor as the roast beef. “Now, let me see, there was that rather large marker of yours I signed for last month at White’s.”
“Pocket change,” Jack said with a wave of his hand.
“And the lady of questionable character for whom I bought that bracelet because you feared losing her to old Ambercrombie?”
“That was a matter of honor.” Jack reached for another slice of beef. … Read more »
From ALONG CAME A DUKE
The day dawned like it always did in May in the village of Kempton, with a bright sprinkle of sunshine, a hint of dew on the grass and the birds singing happy choruses in the garden.
There was no indication whatsoever that on this day, Miss Tabitha Timmons would not only find herself betrothed, but fall madly and deeply in love.
And not necessarily with the same man.
More about this unfortunate turn of events in a moment.
No, the only thing on Tabitha’s mind as she stepped out of the vicarage that afternoon, closing the door quietly behind her on her way to the Tuesday afternoon meeting of the Society for the Temperance and Improvement of Kempton, was that she was escaping her aunt’s demands and her uncle’s complaints for the next blessed three hours.
“Ho, there,” Miss Daphne Dale called out cheerily from the garden gate where she had been waiting for Tabitha. (Yes, she’s one of those Dales, but this is Tabitha’s story and Daphne’s inevitable adventures will have to wait.)
“I was beginning to fear she wasn’t going to let you come,” Daphne continued in a … Read more »
Areowwwwww! The unholy complaint filled the carriage.
“You should have left that foul creature back in Kempton, Miss Tempest,” Mrs. Bagley-Butterton complained for about the hundredth time.
Which equaled the number of times Hannibal had let out that ear-piercing yowl from the basket in which he was trapped.
“He doesn’t like being penned up so,” Miss Louisa Tempest said in defense of her cat. “And I couldn’t leave him behind.”
There was a sigh of resignation from beside Louisa. Miss Lavinia Tempest, Louisa’s twin, made a very deliberate show of looking out the window. She wasn’t about to rise to Hannibal’s defense.
Louisa suspected her sister shared Mrs. Bagley-Butterton’s exasperation and wished poor Hannibal back in Kempton as well.
“I only hope your godmother is an understanding sort,” the matron continued, shifting in her seat in the carriage and eyeing the large basket on Louisa’s lap with an air of disdain and suspicion. She had protested vehemently against the cat being brought along, but she could hardly prevent the matter when the carriage conveying them to London belonged to the girls’ father, Sir Ambrose Tempest. “I know I wouldn’t have that cat in my house.” She sniffed loudly.… Read more »
It is but one night, my truest, my dearest, Miss Darby, but it is all I need to carry you into the starry heavens of pleasure. I promise you this, come with me and from this evening forth you shall reign forever as the Queen of my Heart. —Prince Sanjit to Miss Darby from MISS DARBY’S RECKLESS BARGAIN
The Masquerade Ball, Owle Park
“Oh, there you are, Harry. I’m almost afraid to ask what the devil you are doing—”
Miss Harriet Hathaway looked up from her quiet spot on the patio to find the Earl of Roxley standing in the open doorway.
Some hero! Oh, he might look like Lancelot, what with his elbow-length chain mail glittering in the light, his dark blue surcoat and the leather breastplate trimmed with gold that seemed to accent both his height and breadth, but he’d taken his bloody time showing up to rescue her. It had been hard enough slipping out so that only he noticed.
And even then it had taken him a good half hour to come find her.
“Oh, Roxley is that you?” she feigned. “I hardly recognized you.”
“Wish I could say the same about you,” he … Read more »
Here is an excerpt from HAVE YOU ANY ROGUES?. To set the scene, Lady Henrietta Seldon and her father, the Duke of Preston are visiting one of her father’s estates, Owle Park, before they return to London for Henrietta’s first Season. Remembering a treehouse that is in the woods not far from the house, Lady Henrietta sets out alone to see if she can find it still.
Owle Park, 1801
Lady Henrietta Seldon set off with a determined stride and very quickly found the narrow path, but the turns and shortcuts Felix had followed by rote eluded her memories, and all too quickly she was hopelessly lost in the thick trees and dense undergrowth.
“Dash my wig,” she muttered under her breath, using one of Aunt Zillah’s numerous colorful curses, for Hen knew only too well she was in the suds.
Oh, if only it was just the lost part. There was also the matter of the line.
And yes, that was exactly how a Seldon thought of it. In italics and if necessary, underlined several times.
The boundary that separated Owle Park from the neighboring estate, Langdale. Wherein lived the worst sort of devils.
The Dales.… Read more »